Greater knee osteoarthritis pain during the day was associated with poorer sleep for the spouse that night, and the impact of patient pain was strongest for spouses in a close marital relationship.
Although chronic pain has been linked to poorer psychosocial well-being in the spouse, the extent to which patient pain affects spouse sleep is unknown. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that greater daily knee pain would be associated with poorer sleep for the spouse that evening. We also tested the hypothesis that this pain contagion is exacerbated in couples who have a close relationship. A total of 138 knee osteoarthritis (OA) patients and their spouses completed baseline interviews and a 22-day diary assessment. Multilevel lagged models indicated that greater knee OA pain at the end of the day was associated with spouses' poorer overall sleep quality that night and feeling less refreshed after sleep. In contrast, there was no evidence that spouse sleep was related to greater patient pain the next day. The effects of patient pain on spouse sleep were not due to disturbances in patient sleep and were also independent of spouse sex, depressive symptoms, and physical comorbidities; both partners' negative affect; and the quality of marital interactions throughout the day. As predicted, we also found that patient pain was more strongly related to less refreshing sleep for spouses who were in a close relationship. Findings illustrate that chronic pain may place the spouse's health at risk and suggest an important target for couple-oriented interventions.
aDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
bDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
cDepartment of Psychiatry and University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
dDepartment of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 42240, USA
eCenter for Healthy Aging, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
* Corresponding author. Address: Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 422 Biobehavioral Health Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Tel.: +1 814 865 7374; fax: +1 814 863 9423.
Received 10 December 2012
Received in revised form 10 May 2013
Accepted 13 May 2013
Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.